Comics : Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends #1

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

1981 saw the return of Marvel to the business of animation, and who better to lead the charge than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Joined up with the X-Men's Iceman and specially created new mutant Firestar (to replace Human Torch as he was tied up by a character rights issue, which also led to his being replaced by H.E.R.B.I.E. in the Fantastic Four cartoon) the trio became the Amazing Spider-Friends after foiling a crime together. While not busy attending Empire State University or trying to get rent money for their apartment at Aunt May's boarding house, these three can be seen blazing the skies of Manhattan righting wrongs and saving the day. This comic is an adaptation of the first episode of the series, "The Triumph of the Green Goblin", which was designed to help promote the series to the regular comic readers.

In Detail...

Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends #1
Dec 1981 : SM Title
Summary: Cartoon Adaptation, Firestar, Iceman, Green Goblin
Editor:  Tom DeFalco
Pencils:  Dan Spiegle
Inker:  Vince Colletta
Screenplay:  Dennis Marks
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Super Heroes Annual (UK) 1989
 Reprinted In: Marvel Action Universe #1

A lab explosion had caused businessman and scientist Norman Osborn to become the Green Goblin until he was stopped by Spider-Man and sent to a sanitarium to remove the sinister personality from his head. Now released and deemed "cured", Norman had chartered a small plane to take him back to the city only to get caught in a storm. The plane is struck by lightning, forcing Norman and the pilot to bail out. Norman's landing was anything but smooth, and the blow he took to the head restored his Goblin persona!

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justic...whoops, wrong cartoon. At Aunt May's boarding house, Angelica Jones (whom we know better as Firestar) and Norma Osborn (Norman's niece...boy, wasn't that a stretch?) finish suiting up in their costumes for a party at the college. Angelica dresses up as Spider-Woman as a gag on Peter Parker (do I need to remind you who HE is?) and Norma is Medusa from the Inhumans. They are soon joined by Bobby Drake (Iceman) in a Captain America outfit who introduces Peter in his dime-store Spider-Man replica costume.

The trio head to the hero party, but the fun doesn't last long for Spidey as his spider-sense goes off. Going to investigate, he finds himself at the Osborn Building on campus where he gets ambushed. He manages to dodge for a while before finally getting tagged. He comes to inside the building and chained up with the Green Goblin in front of him. In classic villain fashion, Gobby tells Spidey he plans to poison the city with the same chemical that gave birth to him and turn them all into goblins...just like him! Apparently, the mental glitch in Osborn's head leads the Goblin to believe his looks are more than just a costume. Unfortunately, the formula is not where he hid it.

A worried Angelica goes out to find Peter and almost sets off a Goblin trap when she does. Our heroes escape and give chase as the Goblin kidnaps Norma from right beside Bobby, believing she knows where the formula is now kept. Bobby ices up and the trio splits up to check the likely places Gobby would have taken Norma.

Spidey manages to find Gobby and Norma first (well, of course...I mean, he does have top billing in the title, after all!) just as he's about to give her a dose of the formula to see if it works. Spidey drives Gobby away, but won't let him get away so easily. He tags the Goblin's glider and gets taken for a ride before being shaken off. Luckily, Iceman is able to catch him on an ice slide and get him down to the ground safely. The trio regroups and resumes the chase to Central Park where they surmise Gobby is going to get to the city through the reservoir.

Spidey gets taken for another goblin glider ride while Firestar and Iceman deal with the formula already dumped into the reservoir. Iceman freezes the water to keep the formula from mixing fully, allowing Firestar to melt the water already contaminated to be dealt with later. Meanwhile, the Goblin's plan to ram Spidey into some power lines backfires as the web-spinner saves himself and the Goblin can't maneuver away in time, catching himself on the lines. The jolt was just what he needed to bring Osborn back with no recollection of recent events. With Osborn back in the sanitarium, the trio and Norma return to Aunt May's for some rest and relaxation.

And yes, Ms. Lion fans, she does appear.

In General...

The most important thing to remember about reading this comic is it's NOT the Spider-Man you know. It's just a fun adaptation of a cartoon which doesn't follow the mythos 100%. That said, and having seen the actual episode myself, I must say I not only enjoyed the series but this issue as well. Some things differ from the actual final product, but that always happens with these adaptations. Aside from dialogue, there were some design differences. For example, Aunt May's boarding house looks like a bigger version of the classic Forest Hills house from the comics. In the cartoon, it's actually a small apartment building in the city.

One thing I liked about the issue was the art. They used actual, serious comic art for this book which is the style the cartoon would also be done in. The story was also very good and enjoyable as long as the reader remembers this ISN'T comic Spidey.

I'm sure there would be someone somewhere who would jot down all the little "inconsistencies" and send out hate mail to Marvel because of them. But, in irony of ironies, Marvel predicted such a move and the last few pages of the book are dedicated to introducing the cartoon as well as the people behind it.

Overall Rating...

Five webs. I loved the cartoon and this comic accurately captured the feel of it.

Footnote...

Oddly enough, almost 10 years after this issue the reservoir was disconnected from the city's water system with the installation of a new water tunnel. Guess they got tired of local madmen trying to poison the populace.

Check out the story at the Central Park website.